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Green Algae

October 3, 2010

With increasing demand for eco-friendly alternative to petroleum-based transportation fuels, algae cultivation is coming to stay to produce bio-diesel. Algae will be researched and developed as a source of alternative energy. Algae can produce 30 times more oil per acre, compared to the current crops now utilized for bio-fuels production. Algae bio-fuel is eco-friendly also in the sense that it contains no sulfur. It is non-toxic and highly biodegradable.

The city of Venice has announced a plan utilize an up-and-coming biofuel source – algae. The Italian city plans to produce 50 percent of its electricity needs from an algae-based biofuel power plant, rather than fossil fuels.

Algae biofuel technology will turn what has become a nuisance into a renewable, carbon-neutral energy resource. The city will be producing electricity from two types of algae, Sargassum muticum and Undaria pinnatifida, which are brought in clinging to ships and regularly grow over the seaport. The algae will be cultivated, treated in laboratories, and turned into biofuel [see above image]. The fuel will then be used to power turbines in a new 40 MW power plant in the center of the city.

In order to make the new power plant truly carbon-neutral, CO2 produced by the process will be fed back to the algae.

One area of alternative fuels that has gained a lot of interest over the last year or two is algae biodiesel. This is probably because it will produce 10-30 times what the best oil producing crops in America will produce. Here are some of the gallon per acre figures in this chart (note that the gpa figure varies greatly depending on who you ask, where it is grown, how it is planted, the strain used, how many harvests per year, etc)….

OilCrop      Gallons of Oil per Acre

Soybeans    48

Rapeseed    127

Jatropha    435-2000

Algae        5000-15,000

As you can see, algae produces a lot more oil per acre than all the other oil crops put together.

Here are some other points to consider…

    * Algae consumes carbon dioxide, thus reducing harmful greenhouse gases. Most algae farms are being built right next to coal fired electricity plants  so they have a stea algae biodiesel supply of CO2.
    * I don’t know much about it, but those “carbon credits” are very valuable. Total estimated carbon credit trading this year is about $72 billion  dollars. And is expected to reach $32 Trillion by 2020.
    * The byproduct left over after extracting the oil can be used in cattle feed, vitamins, pigments, cosmetics, etc.
    * Algae can also be used to clean up waste water.
    * I’m sure you have all heard of the blue green algae vitamin supplements. This business sector has been cultivating algae for many years now in huge  quantities. So this technology is not exactly new.
    * From Wikipedia – “Anastasios Melis a researcher at the University of California at Berkeley discovered that if the algae culture medium is deprived       of sulfur it will switch from the production of oxygen (normal photosynthesis), to the production of hydrogen. He found that the enzyme responsible  for this reaction is hydrogenase, but that the hydrogenase lost this function in the presence of oxygen. Melis found that depleting the amount of  sulfur available to the algae interrupted its internal oxygen flow, allowing the hydrogenase an environment in which it can react, causing the algae  to produce hydrogen.”
    * If algae biodiesel farms could also produce valuable hydrogen, this sure would make the economics of the algae farms more feasible. The hydrogen  could be ualgae biodieseled to power the new fuel cell cars or cars that burn hydrogen directly in an internal combustion engine. Right now, most hydrogen is produced using expensive electrolysis.

Ethanol – As you all are painfully aware of, producing ethanol has it’s drawbacks. The price of crops has risen drastically over the past year. The ethanol people say it should not be so because the byproduct of ethanol is a high protein animal feedcake. They say no animal feed is lost in the process and the price of corn should not go up because of that. All I know is that everything is more expensive and that’s a fact. It’s probably due to the fact that more oil crops/animal feed crops are being planted than people food crops.

Oil Crops – Here too, prices are skyrocketing and pralgae biodiesel probably for the same reason… more crops are being planted for biodiesel than for human consumption. The biggest problem with oil crops is that there is only so much land out there and in today’s environment, we can not replace food crops with oil crops. That’s why I like Jatropha so much… it can be grown where food crops will not grow. The same can be said for algae biodiesel – it can be produced without using up valuable food crop land. Another problem with jatropha has been the cutting down of irreplaceable rain forests to plant jatropha. This just needs to be stopped.

Did you know you can start an algae biodiesel farm in your own back yard?

No? Then maybe you should get the new eBook “Making Algae Biodiesel at Home”. I am quite surprised at the amount of detailed algae biodiesel information in this informative eBook. Did you know?…

    * There are many different strains of algae that you can use. The book tells you all about them and even where   to buy them.
    * You can cultivate aglae in salt water and fresh water.
    * You can grow algae in cold weather and hot weather.
    * You may not even need to buy algae strains – you probably have them already in your area.
    * Algae complete an entire growing cycle every few days compared to most of a year for most crops.
    * One quad (7.5 billion gal.) of biodiesel could be produced on 500,000 acres. To produce one quad from a rapeseed crop would require 58 million acres.

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